The government supports in principle additional capacity at Heathrow, including a third runway and additional terminal facilities, after confirming that the strict local environmental criteria set as conditions to expansion would be met.
Heathrow is our only hub airport – it is our most important international gateway and is therefore of critical importance to the British economy.
It is now operating at around 99% of its maximum capacity – leading to delays and constraints on future economic growth. Heathrow is losing ground to international hub airports in other competitor countries. This makes the UK a progressively less attractive place for mobile international businesses.
A third runway at its maximum capacity would provide net economic benefits of around £5 billion.
The UK aviation industry provides around 200,000 jobs directly and contributes around £11bn to the economy (about 1% of GDP). For example, one third of the Airbus A380 is built in the UK, supporting high-skilled manufacturing jobs.
Heathrow is a major employer with over 100,000 direct and indirect jobs. Building a third runway will create new jobs:
On-site jobs safeguarded – 8,000
Direct off-site employment – 2,000
Indirect employment – Up to 15,000
During the construction phase there will be some 60,000 temporary construction jobs created.
There will be no additional flights until air and noise limits are met. Additional flights will only be allowed if regular independent assessments confirm that this can be done without breaching those limits.
The initial expansion of Heathrow will be limited to broadly half the original proposal. Any new slots will be ‘green slots’ for only the cleanest planes. There will be a new target to limit aviation emissions in the UK to 2005 levels by 2050.
“Air travel is going to play its part in the reduction of carbon emissions but it’s unrealistic to think aviation is not going to grow. Business requires a huge amount of travel and we live in a world in which people enjoy going on holiday. As people get richer there is going to be growth in aviation…In my mind, aviation is going to grow”.
David Cameron – PA, 7 June 2007
“Before a decision can be made on this critically important issue, we believe that four tests must be met – on NOx pollution, on noise, on alternative ways to meet demand and free up capacity, and above all, on meeting our climate change targets.”
Theresa Villiers – Conservative Press Release, 22 November 2007